Forensic
Linguistics
Definitions:
“Forensic linguistics is the name given to a number of sub-disciplines within
applied linguistics, and which relate to the interface between language, the law
and crime. The range of topics is diverse: from the analysis of confessions to the
language rights of ethnic minorities, from the assessment of threat in a ransom
demand, to determining the genuineness of a suicide note.” (Wikipedia.com)
The study of the language of the law, including the language of legal documents and
the language of the courts, the police, and prisons;
· The alleviation of language-based inequality and disadvantage in the legal system;
· The interchange of ideas and information between the legal and linguistic
communities;
· Research into the practice, improvement, and ethics of expert testimony and the
presentation of linguistic evidence, as well as legal interpreting and translation;
· Better public understanding of the interaction between language and the law.
(From the constitution of the IAFL)
Core Areas
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Authorship analysis
Phonetic Voice Identification
Investigative Interviewing Techniques
Language in the Courtroom
Protection of the Rights of Vulnerable
Witnesses
Interested Parties:
• Law Enforcement Agencies:
– FBI
– SCAS
– Interpol
• Civil Rights Activists:
– Unicef
– Red Cross
– NAACP
Practitioners:
• Academics:
– Janet Cotterill (Courtroom Discourse, e.g. OJ
Simpson trial)
– Roger Shuy (Concealment of Evidence, political
language)
– ME! (Police Discourse, Investigative Questioning)
• Police Officers/Adjunct Investigators:
– D.S. Kerry Marlowe (Investigative Interviewing)
• Private Consultancy Agencies:
– Forensic Linguistics Institute (John Olsson)
– Institute for Linguistic Evidence (Carole Chaski)
Uses:
• Expert Witnesses
• Discourse Analysis:
– Written: Court Transcripts (miscarriage of
justice, training of lawyers, etc.)
– Spoken: Maximising effectiveness of:
• Police Interviewing Techniques
• Cross Examination
• Witness Protection
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What is linguistics?